It’s almost worth rehashing the Albert Camus quote from earlier in the week. Morality and football are uneasy bedfellows with the professional game hogging all the duvet. As far back as the first professional club, questionable practices emerged with the Premier League era no different in that respect.
Introduce a moral dilemma into the equation and there is no shortage of opinion from every side of the argument, as well as those on the fence picking splinters out of their arsenals.
Yet, fans frequently battle clubs, leagues and federations for “football’s soul”. Do we even know what football’s soul is?
The extent of Danny Welbeck’s injury will be known by player and club this weekend. Everyone is saying he suffered a broken ankle but no-one wants to say how badly, or whether there was any ancillary damage to ligaments. We shall see.
A question to which there is seemingly no answer yet is whether Arsenal should extend his deal? When you broach the subject, the presumption is you mean for another four years but never a year. It’s not uncommon for there to be an option for the club to extend a deal by a year. Seemingly not in this case. Or, Arsenal decided not to.
Welbz was up for sale last summer but there were no takers. He took the decision to run down his deal the year before, I suspect, when he told the club he didn’t want to enter in renewal talks. Unlike Ramsey, those talks never happened.
Arsenal took a decision to let him go and so be it. He seemed content to walk on a Bosman which meant both parties were comfortable with the decision. At 27, the world until Wednesday night was his oyster.
More Like A Walking Dead Plot
Welbeck isn’t going to cut it as a central striker at an elite club, but the next level down? A Leicester, Everton or Bournemouth? He’d do quite well there. Maybe that what he’s needed all along; to be a big fish in a small pond. It might bring the best out in him.
The question for Arsenal is whether to take on an extra year? It’s a decision which can’t be entertained until the extent of the injury is known. If Welbeck is going to be back in the spring, so be it. That’s two months to prove no ill-effects suffered.
If, however, he’s out until late next year, what then? Comparisons to Santi Cazorla miss the point. His injury was unheard of and the story which emerged was more like the beginning of the Walking Dead than a footballer’s life.
Valid comparisons are to Diaby and Rosicky. Both dogged by injury to a worse extent that Welbeck in the past but to varying degrees, we never saw the prime of either.
Both found a benevolent club operating at the Emirates, grateful for the paternalistic approach of the-then manager. Should Arsenal, in the worse case scenario, continue that approach?
Which, to return to the opening theme, is a question of morality. Do we want an Arsenal which leads the way of ‘decency’, of doing the ‘right thing’ in these situations?
Or are we not bothered? Are we so immune to the corruption and tangled webs of deceit which are warping football seemingly every day, that we don’t care?
Given the respective financial muscle in the transfer market, is it impossible for Arsenal to ‘do the right thing’ and still compete? It’s an extra wage on the bill, after all, and we must fund Enos’ dividends.
That’s if the situation reaches that point. It’s purely speculative and let’s hope it remains that way. If it does, everyone’s a winner. Those who want the brief flicker of football’s soul can claim the club would have acted in a certain way while the pragmatists lay out the blueprint for a dynamic, title challenging and ruthless club.
And most of a footballer hasn’t suffered as serious an injury as first feared.